In a gesture
of liturgical welcome, the celebrant greets the people, and the
assembly responds as the celebration begins. This first dialogue
of the Mass expresses the mystery of the gathered Church. No Eucharistic
celebration can occur without the presence of the total Christ:
the Head and the Body, Bridegroom and Bride. The celebrant or deacon
may then, in a few words, describe the Mass of the day (General
Instruction ion the Roman Missal, 50).
move deeper into worship, we now admit our sins and our need for
God’s mercy in the Penitential Rite. We ask the faithful already
in heaven and our brothers and sisters around us to pray for us
– and we’ll hear our neighbors asking the same for themselves. The
Roman Missal permits several versions of this confession of sins,
which may include the Kyrie, or “Lord have mercy”. If not included
in this confession, the Kyrie follows separately. An ancient part
of the Liturgy, the Kyrie harks back to when Greek was the prevalent
language of the Roman Church. It’s a kind of profession of faith.
In the Kyrie, we call on God’s mercy because we believe He will
be merciful to us. And as we call on Him, we begin to rise above
the somber thoughts of our weakness.
completes the Penitential Rite with words of absolution. Of course,
this is not sacramental absolution, and it doesn’t forgive
serious sin. While many Catholics make the sign of the cross in
response at this point, the correct gesture during the Confiteor
is to strike our breast when we say “...through my own fault”.
By this, we further prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Note too that the Penitential Rite may be substituted with a sprinkling
rite, especially during the Easter season, to remind us of the gift
of our baptism.
on feasts, solemnities and Sundays (outside of Lent and Advent),
we next joyously sing or recite the Gloria. This is another very
ancient hymn that should always stand on its own, never simply accompanying
another part of the Mass. Notice too the scriptural character of
the text. Therefore, the words of the Gloria – as the Roman Missal
points out -- should never be replaced. The Introductory Rites continuously
lead us forward as we give praise to God in preparation for an encounter
with the Lord in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Rites conclude in the Opening Prayer or the “Collect” which the
celebrant may sing on special days. The priest invites us with
the words: “Let us pray.” In that moment of silence we gather our
intentions for this celebration and place them before the Lord.
The Opening Prayer is meant to “collect” the prayers of all those
assembled and unite them in the mystery of the liturgical year that
will unfold before us in the Mass.
through the entire Introductory Rites, the assembly should conclude
the celebrant’s prayer with a heartfelt “Amen”. The assembly has
taken the prayer as its own, and is now ready to go out even further
“into the deep” as the Liturgy of the Word begins to unfold.
The archbishop’s reflections on the
Liturgy will continue next week.